Question Time: Michael van Wijk: 'Wolf' from 'Gladiators'

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The Independent Online

Work: Michael Van Wijk, 55, was Wolf on the ITV series 'Gladiators'. He is now the team manager of the gladiators in the new show, which begins on 4 January 2009 on Sky1

Life: Lives in New Zealand with his wife and family

Balance: Keeping fit

Did you stay in contact with the original Gladiators?

We all went our separate ways after the original show, but after the Legends edition we exchanged emails and promised to stay in touch.

What role do you have in the new series?

I'm the team manager, and I pass on my experience to all the gladiators. I've done more shows than any other gladiator in British history.

Do you wish that you could still participate?

Definitely. I'm still fit and strong. I just wish I could do it without the injuries.

How did you get involved in the original show?

I heard on the radio they were looking for gladiators. I sent a picture in with my application, which was from the cover of a computer game called Barbarian. The page three girl Marie Whitaker is holding onto my leg and I'm bare chested, wearing a loin cloth and fur boots, with a big sword and looking evil. After they saw it they called and said: "We loved your picture; can you come in and audition?"

Did you choose the Wolf persona in gladiators?

They chose the name but originally I was supposed to be good. As soon as I heard it was Wolf, though, I asked if I could be bad. They let me try it out for one show and the crowd reaction was amazing. By the next show all the other Gladiators wanted to bad.

Had you worked in films or television before then?

I had already done about 16 commercials. I was the archer in the old Strongbow adverts – I did all my own stunts, and once jumped off the OXO Tower. I had a role in a Ken Russell's film, Salome's Last Dance.

Do you still act?

If the odd job comes along that I like, I'll do it. When I get back I'm playing a chef-with-attitude in New Zealand's equivalent of Coronation Street.

What's your dream role?

I've always wanted to play Doctor Who, obviously one with more muscle and aggression. I was so glad when it came back. I could campaign to get me on it, but I'd have to wear a wig, because I've lost my hair now.

Gladiators will return to Sky 1 in January 2009